Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Name is Appropriate

The day after, we bid Edinburgh "Guid cheerio the nou!"  (...okay, maybe I looked that up, and maybe we just left...) and returned to the north of England, to Potter country.  No, not Harry, more hairy.  You know, as in little fuzzy animals with names like Peter and Benjamin and Jemima and Mrs.  Tiggy-Winkle.  Beatrix Potter country. Specifically to a town called Ambleside.  The houses there are very nice; they're made of stacked slate and look rather like the walls, except they actually do have cement holding them together.  We found our hostel and dumped our stuff, then took off hiking.  Let me tell you, if you're a hiking enthusiast, or just like walks through amazing countryside, go to the Lake District.  Seriously.  Now.  (Oh, fine, you don't have to go this very instant, but you should try.)

We hiked up a pike--wish I could tell you the name, but I forgot rather quickly.  But it looked over the lake--Grasmere, I think.  The woods were very very green and the parts not in woods were through farmland.  Through.  As in we ran into sheep and cows.  It was a bit muddy due to rain (Imagine that!  Rain!  In England!) but the hiking was otherwise good.  Another piece of advice.  If you do go hiking, take wellies.  Or some type of waterproof shoe that comes up your leg at least to mid-calf.  My shoes suffered greatly.  But wow, the view from the top.  Incredible.  We took a little break after cresting to sit and think.  I was on a little piece of grass-covered rock that jutted out , so if I looked out and not up, it felt like sitting on the top of the hill.  Again, so very green.  I could hear chicken and sheep noises rising out of the valley below.

As we got off of that trail, we hiked a bit further to a waterfall.  Very impres...okay, I've seen bigger ones, but it was nice all the same.  The interesting thing about the waterfall--we got off the pike hike (haha, see what I did there?) and were wondering which direction the waterfall was, so we saw a couple coming down the hill and asked them which direction.  The gentleman pointed us down the hill, so we thanked them and went on.  As we turned off to the waterfall, the lady (minus the guy) passed us and said "See, there's the waterfall!  There!  Needed to ask a man."  It was a rather scathing tone, too.  I really don't know why that was such a big deal to her.  Maybe it had felt to her like I was asking the man instead of asking them neutrally?

Anyway...finished that, went back to town, and several of us went out to eat.  Again, on Tony's suggestion, we went to find a gluten-free place he'd told us about called Lucy's.  He'd forgotten/neglected to mention it was actually Lucy 4's, and a little bit more of a bar than a restaurant.  But the dinner was excellent.  The look on the waiter's face when we told him none of us would be needing the drink list... Something of a "You're here...why, exactly?"  The food was Mediterranean, multiple little dishes coming out and being split around.  Excellent food.  Pricey, perhaps, but tasty.  There were figs, olives, meats, vegetables, all cooked well.  After that we grabbed two things of ice cream and ate those back at the hostel.  Good times.

Incidentally, remember how I mentioned Beatrix Potter in the beginning?  Well, as we were driving out to the Lake District, Tony pointed out some sheep that were mottled gray and white, telling us that the breed owed its continued existence to said author.  Apparently, she bought many of the farms from the big land-owners (not the farmers who actually lived there; they hadn't ever owned the farms to start with) to prevent them from being built up.  That particular breed of sheep had been dying out because people weren't raising them any more--according to Tony, they weren't good for wool because it didn't dye well, and the meat wasn't much good either.  Beatrix Potter wanted to save them, so she offered incentives to people to continue raising them.  And Rachel, one of the TA's here, found a rug-maker who argues the "the wool doesn't dye well" idea; I've got a cone of it, actually, that says it looks pretty good dyed.

Tony also told us that the air force uses this as a training ground for pilots, and there have been times he's been driving and jets have flown past him lower than the coach. 

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